Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's a billionaire to do?

With our wrecked economy, 2008 was good news/bad news for our two richest Americans. If you think your portfolio took a tumble, what about poor Bill Gates and Warren Buffett? Gates, the Microsoft chairman, lost $18 billion last year. Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, had $25 billion fall through the cushions of the sofa.

Of course, the good news, at least for them, is Gates' fortune is still $40 billion. Buffett is right behind at $37 billion. They are the two richest men in the world, according to Forbes Magazine's lastest of the richest men and women in the world.

Some things of note in the latest lists:

There are only 793 billionaires this year, compared to 1,125 a year ago. Don't tell me the economy isn't a killer.

Only three Americans are in the world's top 10. Larry Ellison, Oracle's CEO, is No. 4 at $22.5 billion.

You don't have to look rich to be rich. The photo above is Ingvar Kampred, 83, of Sweden. Though he might look like your uncle who talks to himself at family gatherings, this dude, owner of Ikea Furniture, among many other things, is worth $22 billion and is No. 5 in the world.

I still haven't quite forgiven my dad for not being Sam Walton. The heirs of the Wal-Mart conglomeration roll in at No. 11 and three tied for 12. Jim Walton is worth $17.8 billion, and Robson Walton, Alice Walton and Christy Walton and family must scrimp by with each worth $17.6 billion.

But think of it this way. I'm closer to being as rich as Jim Walton is as he is to Bill Gates. For some reason, I can't get too excited about that.

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